Copper, Lead and Zinc Refining in the US Industry Market Research Report from IBISWorld has Been Updated

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Demand from construction markets, combined with demand from automobile, electronics and consumer appliance manufacturers, drives the price of copper. Hence, industry revenue generally moves in accordance with the ruling market price. Prices and revenue have been volatile over the past five years in line with the economy, but they are expected to improve over the coming years. Despite firming downstream growth over the period, merger and acquisition activity is expected to restrict industry size. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated a report on the Copper, Lead and Zinc Refining industry in its growing industry report collection.

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Thanks to mostly strong metal prices coming out of the recession, revenue has grown

Refined copper, zinc and lead are sold almost exclusively on the basis of price; therefore, the performance of the Copper, Lead and Zinc Refining industry is closely tied to fluctuations in the market price of these and other nonferrous metals. “Over the past five years, the prices of these metals have been extremely volatile,” says IBISWorld industry analyst Sean Windle, “with double-digit declines in 2009, followed by skyrocketing gains in 2010.” For example, the price of copper, the industry's main product, fell 25.8% in 2009 before rising 45.9% in 2010. Despite this volatility and deep revenue losses during the recession, industry revenue as a whole has increased over the past five years. Thanks to mostly strong metal prices coming out of the recession, revenue has grown at an average annual rate of 4.2% to $18.7 billion in 2012.

Helping fuel post-recession industry growth is increased demand from foreign markets, especially China, India and other emerging economies. Over the past five years, Copper, Lead and Zinc Refining industry exports have risen at an average annual rate of 8.4%. In addition to shipping refined metal products overseas, industry operators also provide refining services to international clients on a fee basis, without actually owning the refined metal. According to Windle, “The growth in foreign demand has helped offset slow growth in domestic demand, which has been subdued by continued weakness in the US construction sector, the industry's number-one market.”

The improved performance projected for the industry will be fueled by a recovering US construction sector, which is set to expand significantly in 2013 and beyond. The increase in domestic and overseas demand will bolster demand for refined copper, zinc, lead and other nonferrous metals over the next five years. Also in the coming years, the number of companies is forecast to decline slightly, increasing industry concentration. Currently, it has a medium level of concentration that reflects the fact that the highest-producing refineries source their material from the largest-producing mines in the United States, which are controlled by a small number of large companies. Major company Freeport-McMoRan owns and operates the Morenci mine in Arizona, which has the largest copper capacity in the United States. Major companies that own mine sites often sell mined ores and concentrates to other refineries, but they essentially control a significant volume of the production and refinement of copper, zinc and lead in the United States. Other major companies include Rio Tinto (which operates through subsidiary Kennecott Utah Copper) and Grupo Mexico (Asarco Inc.). For more information, visit IBISWorld’s Copper, Lead and Zinc Refining in the US industry report page.

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IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

Companies in this industry smelt or refine nonferrous metals other than aluminum. Refining includes the use of electrolytic methods, as well as the more traditional furnace-based processes. Companies that refine gold typically do so on a fee-for-service basis.

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalization & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld Inc.
Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call 1-800-330-3772.

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